If you are struggling with disobedience, defiance, or children who don’t listen to what you say, here’s how to get your kids to mind without the fuss.
Do you find yourself talking… and lecturing… and repeating yourself over and over?
Then ordering, getting ticked off, and finally yelling?
And still…your precious angels stare at you in confusion, disobedience, or even defiance?
All in all, you want to get your kids to mind without lecturing, cajoling, or threatening.
While this seems like it should be easy, it’s often a challenge that requires our consistency and attention.
Getting Your Kids to Mind by Setting Them Up to Suceed
There’s a difference between telling a child a rule and setting them up for success to follow it.
There will be times when you must explain or discuss a situation, but one must think of “lecturing or yelling” as a sign you are desperate to convince our kids to do what we want.
The truth is, lecturing and yelling at our kids doesn’t fix the problem… we just end up frustrated.
This is especially true when the time comes that our children understand rules, but disobey just the same!
With smaller children we should err on the side of more instruction and less discipline.
Let them wiggle out of chores? No way!
But avoid lecturing and losing your temper before you know they fully understand the rules. 1-year-olds will throw temper tantrums, but it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong.
Steps to Getting Your Kids to Mind
1. Explain instructions, concepts and principles in times of non-conflict
If you begin to see opportunities throughout your day to explain why you do what you do, you can call upon it during times of potential conflict.
The best time to train your child to do something is when it’s not needed. Or when you’re not in a hurry. The time to practice what they’ve learned is when it’s needed.
2. Demonstrate your instructions repeatedly
It takes a while to master a concept. People learn visually, verbally, and hands-on. For whatever skill or behavior you are training it’s important to demonstrate what you are after multiple times.
Give children a chance to become exposed to the skill or rule, comfortable with the process, and finally confident in their ability.
Expect for it to take a while for your children to pick up a skill. Don’t expect your children to easily understand a concept upon first hearing it.
I often gauge when my children are ready to do things on their own completely – when I’ve shown them enough times – by how soon they start saying “let me do it!”
3. Help your kids start the task if they are hesitant
As adults we prefer to give instructions and watch them being carried out. Just. Like. That.
However, this is not often the case with small children, nor is it the case when we are introducing a more complex skill to older kids.
Tips to help kids start tasks…
- Walk them to the area and point at what needs to be done
- Direct them to the area and provide the necessary tools to complete the job
- Demonstrate the skill again
- Show your confidence in their abilities
- Praise them for their work well done or efforts made
- Give your instructions and help them get started
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4. Say what you mean & mean what you say
One of the most underrated tools of parenting (in my humble opinion) is simply this: keep your word.
This won’t be possible 100% of the time, naturally, but if we are people who mean what we say and do what we promise children are far more likely to obey our requests and heed our warnings.
If your consequence is a loss of privilege, don’t be too afraid to make your children angry. If you’ve established house rules, keep them.
The more you get used to doing this the less willpower it will take. It’ll simply become a natural rhythm in your family.
5. Refer to your rules or instructions, don’t lecture
One definition of lecturing is “a long serious speech, especially one given as a scolding or reprimand.”
We tend to sit down after an incident when our children didn’t follow the rules and talk… talk… talk. This doesn’t really work.
The trouble with lecturing our kids is this: if you’re to the lecturing phase they’ve probably already shut down and stopped listening. Young children probably don’t even understand you.
There’s an easier way.
When a behavior arises that is not good, or the opportunity for them to learn something comes up, recall your teaching time. By asking your kids to recall information you’ve already shared you will help transfer that information from short-term to long-term memory.
6. Use statements instead of accusing
If you’ve tried to get your kids to mind, but they aren’t…try using statements instead.
Examples of good statements…
- This toy usually goes…
- Doing this is a no no because…
- The last time I did that, I…
- Our rule about hitting is…
- You’re not allowed to do this because…
- Another way to handle this would have been to…
Instead of spoon-feeding them everything you’ve already spent time teaching them, you can simply use statements to help bring home the point.
Toddlers know they shouldn’t hit their siblings. Kids know they shouldn’t lie. Teenagers know they shouldn’t sneak out of the house. Lecturing ad nauseam will not help them internalize the things they already know.
By getting them to participate in the discussion, you aren’t allowing them to close up, shut down and ignore you.
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7. Learn to discern insecurity with stalling tactics.
I’ve gotten pretty good at discerning when my kids are stalling, and when they are simply hesitating due to uncertainty. When they are hesitating they usually remain by me (are not attempting to escape the situation) and seem a tad confused.
I’ve noticed that 75% of the time when my children balk, it’s hesitation not defiance. They want to be helpful and do things that need to be done. Most of the time they are too engrossed in what they’re doing to have properly heard me, or they simply need to be pushed in the right direction.
They will often get distracted, but this is simply another opportunity for us to teach them to get back on track.When you find yourself starting to lecture, stop.
Learn to Balance, Stay Consistent, and Give Consequences
You can either yell, lecture them for an hour and ground them… or simply give them a chance to comply, give them a consequence and move on with your day.
We’ve established that lecturing and nagging will not get your kids to mind.
Try to articulate your thoughts in one or two meaningful sentences, and then be sure to begin explaining that concept in times of non-conflict.
Follow through and keep your family rules.
And if your desire to lecture is in response to misbehavior, go write it in your journal.
That’ll get it out of your head!